Store Fires Diabetic Employee for Eating Potato Chips

potoato chipsIf there were ever an unwavering passion of mine in life, it's drugstores and discount retailers. Throw me into a Target, a Rite Aid, or a Walgreens and I'm in heaven. Totally unnecessary jasmine-scented body wash? Don't mind if I do. Seven-hundred pack of tea light candles? Why, thank you. Ten jumbo boxes of orange Tic Tacs? Yes, please.

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So, it's because of this excessive affinity that I'm particularly disappointed in one of those stores today.

What happened? Oh, they just fired a perfectly nice employee of 18 years for eating a bag of potato chips when she felt an attack of hypoglycemia coming on.

Here's what happened: Josefina Hernandez, a diabetic, started feeling a little light-headed, a little like her blood sugar level might be dropping, so she grabbed a small bag of chips for $1.39 to boost it back up. When she was able to leave her cashier's post at the South San Francisco store, she paid for the item she took. Walgreens didn't care, though. They fired Josefina, stating that they have a "zero tolerance" policy of stealing. 

Here's where I'm confused. I was under the impression that stealing something meant "taking it without paying for it." I don't understand what Josefina is being fired for. She may have not paid for the chips right away -- because of that whole hypoglycemia thing -- but she paid for them. What is Walgreens' problem?

Whatever it is, Josefina doesn't care. She's fighting back the American way -- she's suing their ass. William Tamayo, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's regional attorney in San Francisco, put it best when he said: "Accommodating disability does not have to be expensive, but it may require an employer to be flexible and open-minded. One wonders whether a long-term, experienced employee is worth less than a bag of chips to Walgreens."

I mean, seriously. I get that big companies have corporate policies they need to abide by, but can't they make an exception for someone who is about to collapse onto the floor? And, again, she paid for the stupid bag of chips eventually.

Like I said, Hernandez worked at Walgreens for a long time -- without any disciplinary record, I might add. Does it really seem right to them to fire an employee like her over something so utterly ridiculous? If so, I'll get my jasmine body wash elsewhere, thanks.

Do you think Walgreens was right to fire Josefina?

 

Image via espensorvik/Flickr

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